Ray Bradbury Theater – Hail and Farewell (S3E10)

rbthailfarewell01Young Willie is chased down the street by some older boys.  Turns out it was a race, but they are mad when Willie beats them, just like he always beats them, just like he gets all A’s in school.

He walks away from the bully when he sees a little girl walking home from school.  The actor playing Willie was 13, and this girl looks pretty 10-ish, so it seems a little creepy. But the creepiness ain’t even started yet.

When they arrive at the girl’s house, he sees her mother and their eyes are locked on each other in breathless recognition.  Willie sees her as the grown up little girl Charlotte he loved 25 years ago, and she recognizes him as the same boy she loved back then. So clearly she is a lot sharper than Lorraine McFly.

rbthailfarewell02Cut to Willie writing a letter to his adopted parents.  He periodically tracks down parents who have lost a child and allows himself to be informally adopted as a replacement.

It is time for him to move on to another family because Willie never gets any older.  After 2-3 years, people start noticing he never ages, and he must disappear before the government kidnaps him and dissects him to make super-soldiers in a richly funded program run by some senator’s brother-in-law.  That last part is not in the episode, just speculation on my part.

When Willie first realized that he was not aging, he ran away from the orphanage where he was picked on as a runt.  He ran away to the circus to be a freak as “The World’s Oldest Kid.”  But it doesn’t really work out as he just looks like a normal kid.  The rubes would have to wait around for 3 years to really get the effect, which makes me wonder how the Hunger Artist got away with his shtick.

He recalls meeting an old woman in the park who lost her young son 30 years ago, and her husband just recently.  He stays with the old woman for 2 years until she croaks.

As he is leaving town, he has one last confrontation with a bully, but he seems to have grown a little — he is able to throw a baseball faster to the bully’s surprise, and to more adeptly handle a bare-handed catch.  This scene makes no sense as he is still not aging, yet he seemed stronger.  Hearing the train whistle in the distance, Willie heads out leaving the bully even more baffled than me.

rbthailfarewell03He passes by Charlotte’s house and she is outside trimming the hedges.  Again, their eyes meet in recognition.  We hear her thoughts, “I was in love with you.”

We hear his thoughts, “Was?”

“Willie,” the 40 year old woman says.

“Charlotte,” the 12 year old boy says.

We immediately cut to a whistling train barreling down the track.  Bradbury seemed like too much of a good egg to have the train go into a tunnel.  Can’t say it was just a simpler time because Hitchcock used that same gag 30 years earlier.

Willie has found another obituary and heads to the house to use his old “I think I’m lost” spiel to insinuate himself into their home.  He has been a kid for 40 years now and thinks to himself that this is his “job” as he heads up the new family’s steps with his suitcase in his hand like a traveling salesman.

This is a good episode after one iffy and one god-awful episode.  Maybe it helps that they are back in the USA and are using directors that actually have other credits.  Josh Saviano (The Wonder Years) doesn’t have as much of the trademark Bradbury flowery writing to sell, but he has been one of the better actors in pulling it off.

rbthailfarewell06Post-Post:

  • This is the 3rd highest rated episode on IMDb’s always-suspect user rating list.
  • Saviano has done virtually nothing in the last 20 years.  I hope he’s enjoying his Wonder Years loot.  Or doing something productive that wouldn’t show up on IMDb.
  • Wearing the same hat for 40 years might not have helped him keep a low profile,

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